People who don’t eat meat make me almost as nervous as Palestinians wearing backpacks. I just don’t trust the buggers. Why on earth would any human being give up eating meat? OK, some people don’t like how it tastes, and I don’t mind such types. But what about that lot who don’t eat meat out of “principle.” “Meat is murder,” “no food with a face,” amongst their most popular war cries. Out of all the vegetarians or vegans I have met I must say that the vast majority of them are quirky at best, but typically downright barmy – obviously a symptom of meat withdrawal. Now, imagine what happens when these types slide further down the whack-job slope. Well, you don’t have to imagine it. Enter the Animal Liberation Front – ALF – interestingly the same name of a space alien in an old film of the same name.

ALF has been the cause of a massive security crackdown at Oxford University. Work has restarted on an £18 million biomedical research laboratory – with builders [“Nazis” in ALF’s view] having to wear masks to hide their identities and avoid harassment – after it was closed 18 months ago due to intimidation and threats to contractors and shareholders. ALF has now declared that anyone associated with Oxford – students, staff or third parties – is now a legitimate target of attack, whether or not they are involved in animal research: “This is just the beginning of our campaign of devastation against anyone linked in any way to Oxford University.” There’s no interest in trying to persuade people with calm considered argument. There tactics are those of intimidation and terror. They’re terrorists.

Amongst the actions of this group founded on “moral principle” are the burning of a college boathouse in an arson attack last July, a smear campaign falsely accusing executives of GlaxoSmithKline, Britain’s largest pharmaceutical company, of being convicted rapists. On the last Saturday of every month, 400 or more animal rights protesters gather to hurl abuse at science students, sound foghorns (causing a library to close) and wave banners with such slogans as: “Animal Testing Causes Cancer,” [huh?] and “Small Children Die Because of Animal Testing,” [?] Oh dear. What I want to know is why these people aren’t either in prison or straight-jackets. They’ve hardly done their cause any favours either as a recent poll shows that because of ALF’s actions 85% of Oxford students now support animal testing. Moreover, an organisation called Pro-Test was set up a week or so ago and has garnered a lot of public support, and will hold its first rally on 25th February. I guess this is what happens when you tar an entire group of people as inherently evil. Why ALF would alienate itself from the entire student body in this way is quite inexplicable and totally irrational, but hardly surprising.

Being irrational is the hall mark of such groups. The fact of the matter is that animal testing is just good common sense. Animal testing lead to a whole host of medical advances: penicillin, small pox vaccinations, pacemakers, heart valves, and is proving to be of immense importance to the fight against cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Despite this work organisations like ALF prefer to propagate the idea that vivisectionists are evil sadists who love nothing better than to torture a rabbit, who get their kicks and giggles from tormenting innocent gerbils. If human life mattered a damn to them then they would, like any rational person, endorse the rightness of using animals in this type of medical research. But, as their terrorism shows, these are not organisations who care much for human life. They lament “animal cruelty” and yet are engaged in some of the worst kinds of cruelty to the most advanced animals on the planet. They claim their actions are intended to bring amount the end of animal suffering, but causing suffering to the highest form of life on earth doesn’t so much as prick their conscience. They have however engaged in a carefully crafted propaganda campaign. They support such anti-human policies and engage in anti-human actions on the one hand, while on the other they feign compassionate motives, thus attempting to gain the higher moral ground. They have portrayed themselves as “liberators” and likened their cause to the fight for race and sex equality and to the abolition of human slavery. So, they’re really just the nice guys exposing human error and abuses.

Take PETA for example. They have been engaged in a campaign against Covance, who conduct medical research on animals as an aid to research into diseases such as breast cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. PETA claims that Covance is involved in gratuitous and unnecessary torture of monkeys, and they have released a 5-minute video to support this claim. PETA’s position is typical polemic, playing on emotion while presenting certain incidents of questionable behaviour as typical when they are in fact isolated and took PETA almost a year of research to find. Rather than portray the scientists involved in medical research on animals as mistaken, they are portrayed as evil – as men and women who KNOW that they are engaged in unnecessary and gratuitous “torture” of monkeys. I suppose it’s much easier to portray these research companies as gangs of sadists rather than engage in the tricky issues of science and ethics. The truth is that no sane and rational person will deliberately inflict unnecessary pain on any animal. Animals are used for a scientific purpose. Nobel Laureate Joseph Murray M.D. says: “Animal experimentation has been essential to the development of all cardiac surgery, transplantation surgery, joint replacements, and all vaccinations.” Former American Medical Association president Daniel Johnson, M.D. adds, “Animal research – followed by human clinical study – is absolutely necessary to find the causes and cures for so many deadly threats, from AIDS to cancer.” It is a massive error of intellect to wilfully avoid the conclusion that without animal testing millions of humans would suffer and die unnecessarily. This is what groups like ALF and PETA would like to see. They want ALL animal research to be banned, regardless of how beneficial it is.

The mentality of these groups is anti-human and insane. Lest the reader think I’m misrepresenting them, I’ll allow them to tell you in their own words. Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of PETA, reckons than animal research is “immoral even if it’s essential,” [how something can be essential AND immoral is illustrative of a mind that hasn’t quite grasped the notion of morality]. She continues: “Even painless research is fascism, supremacism.” When asked PETA’s position in the event of animal testing producing a cure for AIDS she replied: “we’d be against it [on moral grounds].” Opposing any cure for AIDS that involves research with animals is tantamount, since there is no other known way to defeat this disease, to letting human beings die so that laboratory mice might live. ‘I wonder why that would be?’ I hear you ask. Well, I‘ll allow Ingrid to enlighten your blood-soaked mind: “[human beings are] the biggest blight on the face of the earth.” Ooh! I guess you wouldn’t be terribly concerned then if a whole bunch of us just died off then? Freeman Wicklund of Compassionate Action certainly implies that he would: “We need a drastic decrease in human population if we ever hope to create a just and equitable world for animals.” So, Mr Wicklund it seems would be quite happy to see massive human death so we could give animals a better deal. In other words: humans should die that lop-eared rabbits might live. Chris DeRose, founder of Last Chance for Animals, believes that: “If the death of one rat cured all diseases, it wouldn’t make any difference to me.” Seriously? If killing one rat could bring an end to a whole host of human disease you’d be against it? I wonder would you change your mind if the death of one rat saved lots of non-human animals? I suspect that you would, since you are happy for humans to die that animals might live. More from PETA and its associates: “I do not believe that a human being has a right to life” [yet strangely animals do], “I would rather have medical experiments done on our children than on animals” [and so with one single stroke of obnoxious ethical though children sink beneath animals on the scale of value]. PETA cofounder Alex Pacheco reckons: “Arson, property destruction, burglary, and theft are acceptable crimes when used for the animals’ cause.” So do all terrorists, I guess. And, Michael Fox, vice president of The Humane [?] Society, believes that: “The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration.” Which means that you either blub your eyes out for weeks when someone steps on an ant or you’re not terribly bothered when your child gets hit by a car. Either way you’re a lunatic. God help your children. Ironically an ant probably has more concern and respect for its offspring than you seem to have for yours.

Do not these sentiments, coupled with the behaviour of animal liberation “activists” tell us that they would rather sacrifice the lives of thousands of human beings for the sake of animals? In their view it’s clear that animals come first. They don’t always make it so explicit, but that is the clear implication of their actions and remarks. The human death and suffering that would result if we were to agree that animals have “rights” would be extensive, not that such a consideration bothers the Bunny Lovers. It’s not that those who engage in terrorism are just taking an otherwise benevolent cause a bit too far either. The anti-human behaviour is an integral part of animal rights philosophy – however mild its adherents may be. We shouldn’t be surprised that we witness arson, violent beatings, smear campaigns, intimidation and harassment from animal “activists” because in their philosophy humans are not valued too highly. And even those who don’t engage in this type of explicit violence do support the end of animal research, and thus would gladly see humans die and suffer longer from a whole range of diseases that could otherwise be combated. Both parties seek a goal that will lead to millions of unnecessary human deaths in the future; they disagree only on how to achieve it.

The entire animal rights movement is riddled with fatal flaws, not least of which is the incoherence of the very notion of “animal rights.” Talking of animal rights sounds prima facie sensible. However, applying the concept of “rights” to animals is to make a basic category mistake. Rights are those things which define the limits of government power over its citizens, and thus can only apply to human subjects who make up human societies. The fortunate thing for the animal rights movement is that most people nowadays haven’t got a baldy notion what rights actually are. For instance, when we talk of a “right to private property” we see this twisted into another concept – the right to be given property. This means that government – or, more accurately, taxpayers – is burdened with the obligation to provide it: free housing for the unemployed or land for gypsies, for instance. This conception reduces rights to a set of demands that a government must comply with. Instead, the right to property is properly explained by the idea that if you legally acquire property then no one can rightfully take it from you without your consent. You have your property “by right.” Government cannot rightfully interfere.

Bunny Lovers use the fog surrounding rights language to create their own notion of rights. In their case they argue that because animals feel pain their interests must be considered and protected, and that since this is something to which animals have a “moral entitlement” then we are legally obliged to enforce it. Leaving aside the dubious idea that feeling pain is the basis of rights, it should be noted that even if it were the case that animals have such a moral entitlement to be considered and protected this would not require us to legally enforce it. The simple reason is that it is not the job of government to legislate morality. It is the job of government to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens, and animals are not citizens. If people think it is immoral to treat animals a certain way then they are free not to behave towards animals in that way. Different people have differing moral outlooks. Those who don’t like prostitution are free not to become a prostitute or visit one. Those who believe we have a moral obligation to restore forests are free not to become lumberjacks. But no one has any business whatsoever dictating to other people on the basis of their own moral preferences as long as those preferences are irrelevant to the fundamental rights of individual human beings.

To ban the use of animals in medical research is to introduce a law dictating to citizens on a point of behaviour that doesn’t adversely affect any single citizen. Governments should not be in the business of passing laws that go further than protecting the fundamental rights of its citizens, and in this case it would be lunacy to introduce a law that has no benefit whatsoever to any single citizen. Despite all the plop about “animals rights” the blunt kick-you-in-the-balls fact is that an animal no more has rights than a tree, a blade of grass or a house brick does.

To ban animal testing would be disastrous for human life and society, as shown above. Moreover, the same arguments against medical testing could also be applied to the closing down of abattoirs, the end of farming, the banning of fishing, shooting, zoos or pest control. In California the Animal Liberation Front engaged in an arson attack against a meat processor and a vandalism attack against a farm bureau. Of course, this vision has members of ALF drooling like a carnivore over a bloodied chunk of sirloin. But for the rest of us – the rational section of society – we should be very wary of the vegetablisation of human life and society. If we bow to the Bunny Lovers on animal testing we will have swallowed a terribly dangerous pill. We will have accepted the roots of a philosophy whose tentacles reach much further than animal testing, a philosophy that is ultimately anti-human. Bunny Lovers know all too well that Joe Bloggs is more vulnerable on the issue of animal testing than, say, meat eating. Because so few people are involved it is much easier to misrepresent and get a sympathy vote portraying animals in labs as victims of mindless torture and vivisectionists nothing other than monsters getting their kicks by pushing pins into the eyes of hamsters. By emphasising “torture” they promote their opposition to the life-saving work of medical research companies and further their agenda of subjugating humans to animals.

Anyone who values human life must oppose the Bunny Fascists. We need to shout it loudly: human life is more important and of much greater value than the life of any other animal.

Stephen Graham B.Th (Hons)